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Flagstaff could see measurable snowfall for first time this winter

(Flickr/Yellowstone National Park)

PHOENIX — The winter season is in full swing for northern Arizona, but you may not be able to tell by looking at Flagstaff, which has not received any measurable snowfall.

But an official with the National Weather Service said that could change this weekend, as forecasts predict the town could see about a quarter-inch of snow on Saturday.

Spokesman David Byers said there is about a 30 percent chance that the Flagstaff area could receive a quarter-inch of snow anytime between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

While this may not sound like a lot, Byers said it would be enough to count as measurable snowfall for Flagstaff.

The wait for snow in Flagstaff is the ninth-longest on record. The latest the city went without snow was Jan. 15 back in 2006. By this time of year, Flagstaff usually receives about 30 inches of snow for the season.

Byers said Flagstaff is expected to warm up to 15 degrees above the normal temperatures this week, then drop to 5 degrees above normal this weekend.

Forecasts are also indicating that another snowfall could be coming through next week, but Byers said it was “way out there, so it’s hard to tell.”

The lack of snowfall has hurt local businesses. Workers and owners of hotels, retail stores, restaurants and recreational areas said it has been a slower season than normal.

The holiday season is usually a high-demand time for Flagstaff hotels, said Ash Patel, who owns three hotels in the city. But this year, the low demand has caused room rates to drop by 20 to 25 percent, he said.

While business has been consistent, restaurant and bar owners said it also appears slower than normal. The slower season is linked to the lack of snow, said Kelly Hanseth, manager of the Lumberyard Brewing Company.

Arizona Snowbowl has opened 10 ski runs and four lifts for the holiday season because of its snowmaking capabilities, general manager J.R. Murray said. But less than 2,000 skiers have been visiting the mountain each day, less than the daily 2,800 the slopes typically sees around this time.

KTAR News’ Jim Cross and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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